Know Your Ingredients: Grains and Cereals
Updated: Sep 7
Barnyard millet is also known as Sanwa in Hindi, Shyama in Bengali, moraiyo in Gujarati, oodalu in Kannada, kuthiraivolly in Tamil, and udalu in Telugu. It is the lowest in calories amongst cereals, including other millets. Since it tastes like broken rice when cooked, barnyard millet provides a low-calorie substitute for rice and thus supports weight loss. The food prepared with barnyard millet is easy to digest and gives strength, and therefore has been traditionally used in North India during fasting. It is gluten-free, low in glycemic index, a good source of highly digestible protein, and rich in dietary fiber. These properties make it a good food for people with diabetes. In addition, barnyard millet is also a good source of iron.
Corn is considered a grain, vegetable and fruit! Like all grains, the primary nutrient in corn is carbohydrates. But is also high in fibre and has low to medium glycemic index, so it will not cause an immediate spike in blood sugar. Corn is also rich in B vitamins, which helps in lowering cholesterol, promoting heart health and producing red blood cells.
Finger Millet (Ragi)
Ragi is a millet which is packed with all the essential macronutrients - complex carbohydrates, fibers, fats and proteins, along with noteworthy levels of key micronutrients - vitamins and minerals. It is a gluten-free grain with many health benefits. Ragi is a rich source of calcium which is required for health bones and teeth. In fact, ragi has three times more calcium than an equivalent amount of milk. In addition, ragi contains considerable quantities of vitamins C and E, to boost immunity, and skin and hair health.
Kodo millet, also known as cow grass, rice grass, ditch millet, Native Paspalum, or Indian Crown Grass originates in tropical Africa. Locally known as Kodon, it is estimated to have been domesticated in India for 3,000 years. Kodo millet grows in warm and dry climates, and its cultivation is environment-friendly. It is highly drought tolerant and, therefore, can be grown in areas where rainfall is scanty and erratic. Compared to rice and wheat, Kodo millet is high in fiber, low in carbs, and rich in essential minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It is also rich in various B vitamins, especially B3, B6, and B8 vitamins. Because of high water-soluble fiber, Kodo millet is a low glycaemic food and helps in controlling blood sugar levels in our body. It also keeps our body full for longer and helps in reducing body weight. Kodo millet is also very rich in magnesium, which is a very common yet under-recognized deficiency.
Little Millet, one of the small millets, is commonly called kutki in Hindi. It is also known as sava in Marathi, gajro in Gujrati, same in Kannada, samai in Tamil, and samalu in Telugu. Little millet is the traditional crop of India. The millet is of low glycemic index, containing slow-digesting carbs and dietary fiber. Due to this, it takes a longer time for the glucose to enter the bloodstream and thus helps control blood sugar levels. It is rich in magnesium that helps improve heart health, and Vitamin B3 (niacin), a water-soluble vitamin, that helps lower cholesterol. It also contains phosphorus which helps with weight loss, body tissue repair after a strenuous workout, and energy production.
Oat is a gluten-free whole grain, which is high in protein and fat, fibrous, loaded with various vitamin and minerals, and rich in various antioxidants. Oats are high in the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has numerous benefits. They help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and promote healthy gut bacteria. Due to their fibrous nature, they help in feeling full for a longer time, and thus helps in weight reduction.
Pearl Millet (Bajra)
Pearl millet is a Nutri-cereal that is gluten-free and highly rich in nutrients such as protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Due to its rich composition of minerals and proteins, it offers numerous health benefits such as controlling diabetes, helping in weight loss, reducing cholesterol, and aiding digestion. Pearl millet is also high in beneficial plant chemicals like antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytochemicals, all of which are known for contributing to optimal human health in many ways.
Proso millet is also known as chena or barri in India. It is extensively cultivated in Russia, the USA, Ukraine, South Korea, Kazakhstan, France, Poland, Belarus, India, and Iran. Proso millet is rich in minerals, dietary fiber, polyphenols, vitamins, and proteins. It is gluten-free and therefore, ideal for gluten intolerant people. Proso millet contains high lecithin which supports the neural health system. It is rich in vitamins (niacin, B-complex vitamins, and folic acid), minerals (phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and iron), and essential amino acids (methionine and cysteine). Because of high water-soluble fibre, proso millet is a low glycaemic food and helps in controlling blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. It also keeps our body full for longer and helps in reducing body weight.
Quinoa is native to South America, where it has been consumed for thousands of years. It is a gluten-free pseuo-cereal that offers a range of health benefits. It is one of the few plant sources of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also rich in fibre. 100 gm of quinoa contains around 14 gm fibre. Quinoa is also rich in antioxidants and in minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium. It has a low glycemic index, making it good for blood sugar control. Due to all these properties, quinoa is considered useful for metabolic health and weight loss.
Jowar is a millet that is gluten-free and rich in protein and various essential vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. It is loaded with good amounts of calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, and cell-building B vitamins. The rich quantity of potassium and phosphorous helps lower cholesterol and manage high blood pressure. Most importantly, the grain is incredibly rich in fiber and helps in controlling weight, and reduces chances of obesity and diabetes.
Whole wheat Flour
Compared to refined flour, whole wheat grain flour is not stripped of valuable nutrients and has many health benefits. It is fibrous and a complex carbohydrate that slowly converts to glucose in our body and keeps us full for a longer time. Fibre also helps lower cholesterol as well as move waste through the digestive tract. Whole wheat flour is also rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than refined flour.